Hours into the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), banks across the country, including Washington Trust Bank, are reporting that the Small Business Administration's portal is not working.

"The E-Tran system with SBA continues to shut down and we can't get through the way we'd like. It's challenging to say the least," Jack Heath, president of Washington Trust Bank, said on Monday.

Multiple banks are reporting the same issue, according to NPR.

"I think it's just a volume problem. We had a little bit of this last time and I think we'll be able to work through it. The system wasn't built for this kind of activity," Heath said.

Monday was the first day the Paycheck Protection Program reopened, weeks after the program and its $349 billion funding were depleted in a days.

"In 12 days, they (SBA) had exhausted $349 billion in loans - that's the equivalent of 14 years worth of origination from the SBA and it was completed in 12 days," Ezra Eckhardt, the President and CEO of STCU, said on April 17.

Both Eckhardt and Heath encouraged small business owners to continue applying after the funds ran dry, in the hopes that more funding would be added. Congress approved an additional $310 billion for PPP loans last week.

 

Since the PPP funding ran out in mid-April, more than a thousand applications were submitted to Washington Trust Bank, according to Heath.

"What we did is reach out to our customers and said, 'In spite of the program being closed out, continue to submit applications. Let us get them ready for submission and work with you, so that when this opens up, we'll be in a position to process them.' So, over the last week, we've been taking applications from our customers and non-customers and getting those ready for processing. Currently, we have have over 1,000 of those, ready to go," Heath said.

Heath also recommended reaching out to local creditors to explore additional options, other than PPP loans. He said there other resources, like deferrals, could provide sufficient financial assistance during the pandemic.